DESTIN, Fla. — Florida coach Dan Mullen says he is misunderstood and denies taking a jab at Georgia via the Gators announced spring football game attendance number.
“I’ll be honest with you, there’s not always secret meanings into what I’m saying,” Mullen said on Wednesday, when asked by DawgNation at the SEC Spring Meetings about his relationship with Georgia and Kirby Smart.
“I just kind of tell you what I think, and then everyone is like, ‘there has to be some kind of secret behind it,'(and) there really isn’t.”
Florida’s announced spring game attendance was 39,376. Some — including the SEC Network — deciphered that as a reference to the 39 years since UGA last won a national football title, and the 476 games played since that particular game.
Florida’s reported spring game attendance: 39,476
39 – years since Georgia’s last national title
476 – games Georgia has played since its last national title
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) April 16, 2019
“I’m not that smart on the attendance figure,” Mullen said. “That’s as random a number as you’ll ever find.”
Mullen described the Gators’ rivalry with Georgia as “fun,” explaining why it carries so much weight to so many.
“I think it’s always a big one,” Mullen said. “When you’re at Florida you have a couple different rivals.
“You know what makes (Georgia) a good rivalry game? It’s that both teams are usually competing for a bunch, competing for championships,” he said. “If that game has something to do with who is going to win a championship, it makes the rivalry even bigger, and I think that’s what makes it fun.”
Mullen said he thinks his reputation for poking at rivals developed when he was the head coach at Mississippi State and has carried over.
“Many years ago when I became a (head) coach and we started building at Mississippi State, you didn’t have this huge tradition and other things, so we built this rivalry between Mississippi State and Ole Miss,” Mullen said. “And so everything became that everything I say must be an attack at Ole Miss, and everything they are saying is an attack at Mississippi State.
“So I think that probably carried and people think if I’m saying something that I must be trying to jab at one school or the other.”
Mullen said people may have been searching for meaning in this year’s Florida spring game attendance because while at Mississippi State, he did manipulate the spring game attendance number to poke fun at Ole Miss.
“We did one year my first year at Mississippi State,” Mullen said, referring to an announced attendance of 34,127 — a reference to a 41-27 win over the Rebels the year before.
Indeed, Mullen said if he was going to manipulate the Gators’ attendance this year, it would have be a reference toward the 41-14 win over Florida State.
“If I was going to do an attendance deal, obviously I would have done 41,140 or whatever the Florida State score was, one of those deals,” Mullen said. “I think people look at it and try to make a bigger deal out of what you say, or dig deep into what I’m saying.”
DawgNation at SEC Spring Meetings
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